Since everyone and their little sister feels compelled to create their own NBA mock draft this year, I figure it's a pretty good idea to stay far, far away from doing the same.
It's boring. It's arrogant. And most of all, it's going to be completely wrong—even if you're Chad Ford and think you know everything (except feel obliged to make 400 mocks anyway...you know, to cover all the bases).
Regardless, I love the NBA draft. It's one of my favorite things of the year to watch, and I felt like saying something on the subject—and you can't stop me.
So I figure I'd apply my healthy supply of college basketball knowledge to an honest list of prospects I like and hate...and one who doesn't really fit into either category, but who I've got strong feelings about anyway.
Guys I Like
Yes, I'm aware that he went to enough high schools—six—to satisfy each child of the Brady Bunch, or each of Larry King's wives. And yeah, he seems like a bit of a cocky moron sometimes.
But I followed the Big XII pretty closely last year, and, um, he was kind of the best player in it. By a lot.
Look, I don't care if he's 6'10", 6'7", or 5'3", the guy can flat-out ball. 26.5 ppg and 12.5 rpg just do not lie, especially in the competitive Big XII.
He dropped 39 points in Lawrence against the to-be-NCAA champion Jayhawks, and they have, what, five future NBAers? And you mean to tell me he can't do that to Excremento...excuse me, Sacramento?
Another thing he's got going for him is that cocky attitude. Sure, it's probably gonna rub some NBA fans the wrong way, but if I'm not mistaken, there's a certain Chicago Bulls legend who was never exactly a candidate for sportsman of the year, either (relax, I'm not making any comparisons).
Beasley is likely to tell you that he's gonna drop 40 on you, and then do it just to make himself look good.
In my mind, what's the real difference between Mike Beasley and Kevin Durant, last year's draft darling? They're similar in size (Beasley actually has the better, stronger NBA body), dropped similar numbers against the same competition (again, Beasley gets the advantage with slightly better stats against a slightly stronger league), and seem to have the same basketball IQ.
Beasley's a better defender overall too, and he somehow gets about 1/10th of the love KD got. God, I could do an entire article on this comparison. But I digress.
Beasley is damn good, end of question. Pencil him in for 25 and 9 for twelve years.
O.K., so he's not going to be the perennial MVP and all-world player that he was projected to be in the seventh grade, when the rest of us were scraping our knees in our backyards and trading Pokemon cards. He probably won't even be an All-Star. But besides Beasley, he's the best in this class.
He's got good size for either guard position. He's got naturally crisp offensive skills and a chance to be a truly game-changing defender.
Look, this draft really lacks franchise players. Beasley's the only one, and only if he's in a great situation. Mayo is not a building block. What you're really looking at is a really solid starter who's going to be a Caron Butler-esque second or third option on a playoff team.
That might not be what you want drafting in the top five, but hey, you can do a lot worse.
This is really awkward, him being an NCAA champion Kansas Jayhawk, and me being a depressed, disgruntled Missouri Tiger. But Rush is way good, and will be one of the best swingmen in the league in a few years.
(Note: I can't stand the term "sleeper," but if I could stand the term, I'd apply it to Rush.)
He really knows how to play the game. His stats are just alright (13.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg), but he's got a beautiful midrange jumper, and he's pretty tenacious defensively.
Plus, he's got a really sweet name, and you can't deny the impact of that on a player (unless you're Stromile Swift, who should really trade names with, like, Chris Bosh or someone good with an unfortunate name).
Guys I Hate
It's nothing personal. He's probably a nice guy, and his uncle made some pretty good music with the Beach Boys. It's just that he's got no place in the league.
He's an undersized big man who's pretty good at everything, but not great at anything. He's not really athletic, and he's not going to scare any 4's defensively. So how is he projected to go top five?
I understand he made plenty of plays at UCLA, and that he was a top prospect coming out of high school. But I don't see him being good enough to crack the rotation of a powerhouse NBA team.
If he's lucky, he'll be Troy Murphy. If he's not, he'll be a lot worse. No thanks.
Have you seen this guy play? It looks like someone took Nicole Ritchie, made her 6'10" and black, and asked her to run around and play PF. If I were his teammate, I wouldn't know whether to pass him the ball or pass him a burger.
Aside from his problematic body, the dude just screams bust. He produced average numbers for a terrible college team, and he's not nearly as physical or talented as fellow LSU alum Tyrus Thomas, who, aside from the fantastic surname, is nothing to write home about.
Is that what you want, lottery teams? A chance to have a crappier version of Tyrus Thomas?!
Some team is going to make a huge mistake taking this guy. He's destined to be a 76er.
Admittedly, I didn't follow much OSU basketball this year. I knew about this Koufos fella, but I figured that, at seven feet, he was probably a solid low-post banger with some nice turnaround moves. I thought this for quite a while.
Now, in the midst of NBA draft season, I'm finding out that he's actually more of a perimeter guy, can't block shots and can't really rebound consistently. Why, why, WHY? YOU'RE SEVEN FEET TALL! YOU'RE ATHLETIC! BE A REAL CENTER!
He's probably gonna wind up in the top 15, which is really a shame. Best part? On espn.com, they compare him to Darko Milicic. Sign me up!!! Except don't.
Guy I'm Really Not Sure About
On one hand, he's a great jump shooter with above-average slashing skills and a good demeanor. On the other hand, he's...he's a jump shooter.
He's also only 6'3", making him a bit shrimpy for a shooting guard. He's also very streaky from beyond the three-point line, despite his reputation of being an ace bomber.
Best case scenario is that Gordon develops his jump shot to the point that it's top five in the league, and then uses it to help a good team.
He'll never be a true go-to guy, but judging by the fact that he had some ridiculous performances over the year (and that he's impossible to stop in NCAA March Madness '08 for XBox 360), there's a solid chance that he'll carry a team offensively for stretches.
But I don't know...is he really top 10 material? He doesn't really excel at anything other than shooting, and, at his size, he'll likely be very guardable for most 2s.
You can do a lot worse than Eric Gordon if you're, say, the Knicks or the Bucks. He could turn out to be a big helper. But he could also flame out early if he doesn't find a place in the league.
Who knows? That's the fun.
(Unless you're an NBA GM. Then it's definitely not fun.)